New York Goes Up In Flames, RAMMSTEIN At Fault
By Tyler Crooks
My rating points:
December 11th 2010, Madison Square Garden, New York City NY
Chapter 1: And So It Begins..
When I arrived at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2010, I was met with a flurry of emotions. I was sweating in anticipation for Rammstein's long awaited return to the United States. The line grew longer every second, and the crowd was alive with loud conversations of what the set would be like, if the band would be using their infamous pyrotechnics, and if they would play their classic "Amerika." The line progressed quickly as the doors were opened. Before entering MSG, we were met with several lovely merchandise tents, with incredibly huge crowds huddled around them, with everyone trying to purchase a coveted event shirt with the Statue of Liberty printed on them. Unfortunately for me, they sold out before I was able to snag one. We were quickly ushered inside where we were promised there would be more merchandise.
Upon entering the venue, we were met with a frustrating maze of escalators and staircases. Finding this secondary merchandise stand seemed an impossible task, but I was determined to not leave the building empty handed. After several trips up and down 7 flights of stairs, I was finally directed to my land of milk and honey; a small cage set up next to a bar, full of shirts and posters. I was able to purchase myself a Reise Reise shirt, and a Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da shirt for my girlfriend while she found our seats. My fear of leaving without anything to show quickly subsided and I ventured into the arena to see the show.
Chapter 2: Combichrist And Other Assorted Goods
The venue seemed a bit too empty for my liking when I took my seat way up in the rafters. While everyone was piling into the venue, the seats didn't seem like they were filling up at all. I thought to myself "Did they really sell this place out, or was that all hype?" At 8:00 on the dot, Combichrist took the stage, and really set the mood for the evening. Their performance was much better than the other times I've seen them, and I actually found myself tapping my foot along with their music; perhaps they just needed a decent sound system for me to appreciate their music.
At 8:30 exactly, they ended their set and left the stage. After a quick survey of the building, the seats seemed to be filling up quickly, as Rammstein was set to hit the stage at 9:00. The crowd was giddy with anticipation, and every sound that came from the stage was met with loud cheering and chants of "RAMMSTEIN! RAMMSTEIN! RAMMSTEIN!"
The clock was ticking, and the venue was filling up faster and faster with each passing minute. Suddenly, at nine o'clock exactly, the lights went out....
Chapter 3: The Reckoning
Once the venue was dark, the crowd once again erupted in a symphony of cheers and chants that almost broke the sound barrier. The seats were shaking from the cheering alone! Rammstein's introduction music came on as they broke through what looked like a big drywall barrier that the members of the band cut through and broke apart. Till Lindemann walked out onstage and began to sing the beginning of Rammlied. Suddenly the band exploded into the song with their guttural shouts of "RAMM...STEIN!" Complete with pyro! It was a beautifully self-indulgent way to open such a legendary show...
After Rammlied, they went right into Buckstabu, and the stage was engulfed in a sea of red and white lighting, which was really quite breathtaking. After Buckstabu, they performed the incredible Weidmann's Heil. During Weidmann's, they put on an incredible pyrotechnic display, with fire shooting all over the place, ended by a shot of Till's "rifle" to the ceiling, which brought down a beautiful shower of sparks over the stage. It was truly a sight to behold.
After Weidmann's Heil, the band ripped right into Keine Lust, letting the audience sing the beginning "Ich hab keine lust" bit. They seemed to turn their back on the fire for this song, instead, opting for steam that came out of the stage, giving their already cold, industrial-factory-like setup more authenticity.
The next song up was Weisses Fleisch, and while there was nothing overtly extravagant going on onstage, the band was on fire with their incredibly tight and fresh sound. The rhythmic marching between Till, Paul, and Richard was pretty interesting as well. During the song, Richard managed to get in a great guitar solo, and Christophe performed a pretty awesome, albeit short drum solo. Flake, being...well, Flake, performed a delightful spastic dance for us before returning to his post; classic Rammstein.
The next song on the list was the infamous Feuer Frei! I was expecting the stage to be completely engulfed in flames during this song, but amazingly, there was only a loud BANG! From the small pyrotechnics they use to tease the crowd. I wondered why a song about fire warranted such little use of pyrotechnics until Paul, Till and Richard left the stage, only to return with their legendary face-mounted flame throwers. The fire was flowing beautifully from their faces with each shout of BANG! BANG! Being in the rafters, I thought I wouldn't be able to feel the heat from any of the fire, but boy was I wrong. With each blast of fire, I was sweating a little more.
After Feuer Frei, the stage went dark, save for a single stand-up lamp with a gramophone next to it, while Till came out on his knees to recite the beginning lyrics to Wiener Blut. The stage went dark again, and out came the lasers. Lasers at a Rammstein show, odd, I know. But what was even odder was that the lasers were the eyes for incredibly creepy baby dolls that were hanging above the stage. I must say, Rammstein rocked the shit out of this song, and the icing on the cake was the beautiful fireworks that exploded in rhythm with Christoph's drumming towards the end of the song; Epic? Yes.
Wiener Blut went right into Fruhling in Paris, with the beautiful acoustic introduction played by Ollie. To hear this song live is an amazing, emotional experience; with Till's beautiful voice over acoustic instrumentation, leading into an overdriven, but not incredibly heavy epic, it makes for an amazing song that can literally bring you to your knees in tears. Simply put, it was incredible; definitely the Ohne Dich of this tour.
I guess the boys figured it was high time to drop their sensitive emotions and rock the hell out of us with Ich tu dir weh; again, an incredible performance; loud, crisp, and in your face. The pinnacle of this part of the performance was Till's interaction with Flake, which always seems very violent, in a brotherly kind of way. Till threw Flake into a large metal bathtub and stood on a rising platform holding what looked like a metal milk canister. As Till finished his verse, he turned the canister over, and a shower of sparks filled Flake's metal tomb. The spark shower ended with a huge bang and a flash. After Till's platform brought him down to the stage safely, he walked over to Flake's bathtub, made a cross over it, and Flake popped out in a sequin suit that shined as bright as day, with all sorts of different colors shimmering off of him as if he were made of precious metals. Being up so high in the venue, I kind of had an eagle's perspective over the stage and watched the bathtub the entire time. There were no false bottoms, no trap doors, nothing. How Flake managed to withstand that barrage of sparks will always elude me...But such is the mystique of Rammstein.
Of course, Rammstein played some staples of their discography as well. They dug into their extensive library of classic songs and pulled out Du Riechst so Gut to follow Ich tu dir weh. As soon as that iconic keyboard intro kicked in, the stage was illuminated in a warm glow of dark green light. At this point in the set, they really seemed to be giving the show every ounce of effort and devotion they possibly could. Everything was perfect; From Till's voice to Christoph's drums; everything was in perfect harmony.
Now was the time for some serious business. The band kicked into Benzin and Till brought out an old style gasoline pump. How appropriate! At this point, everyone was wondering what the hell he would be doing with it, as if we didn't already know. While the fire was blasting in the background, the band was wailing away on the song. During the breakdown, Till lights a road fuse, and uses it as the ignition for his gas-tank-flamethrower. Suddenly, someone got up on the stage and ran about like an idiot, and Till promptly set him ablaze; Word to the wise, never piss off Germans. His fire was extinguished, and the song ended. The boys really outdid themselves with that one.
The sounds of military-style marching quickly filled the venue as the band began to play Links 2, 3, 4. The band marched out onstage after changing guitars, and the song started with a bang. Ollie's bass really shone through during Links. Most of the time he seems to blend into the background, but this was one of the instances where he really broke out of his shell and played loud and proud. Everyone was in top form during this song, and it seems like everyone's energy increased 100%.
Now was the time for one of the most recognized and famous songs out of Rammstein's catalogue. I'm talking of course, about Du Hast. The stage burst into a pretty spectacle of fluttery lights synchronized with the keyboards. With every shout of "NEIN!" the flames would burst from the stage and lit the venue up quite nicely. The crowd was in extreme unison with their shouts of "Du! Du Hast Mich!" Till brought out one of his various pyrotechnic weapons and shot a cool display of scattering fireworks every which way before they exploded in a burst of gold and silver. The fire was everywhere, and the music was as tight as could be.
The mood in the room quickly went from angst to extreme happiness as the band broke out into their instant hit Pussy. Everyone was singing in unison, taking over the first verse. The screams of "You've got a pussy, I've got a dick" were coming from every end of the room, which probably made the "refined" staff at MSG cock their heads in confusion; beautiful. The real climax of Pussy(had to) was Till's awesome dick-cannon, which shot a plethora of white foam all over the hot, sweaty audience; It just isn't a Rammstein show unless there's some kind of phallus involved. After the song, the band all joined together at the front of the stage to take a bow and thank the crowd, in a truly admirable fashion. This was true showmanship at its finest. The boys walked offstage, leaving everyone to wonder if it was really over.
OF COURSE IT WASN'T!
After a few minutes of waiting, they came back out onstage with the intro to the incredible Sonne playing. Christoph's drumming followed as the band completely tore it up. I must say, as a fan, Sonne is best enjoyed live, where Richard and Paul's guitar work can truly be appreciated. Everything was purely badass during this song, and it was well worth the wait, I must say.
The following song, Haifisch, was an odd choice since it's so tame compared to the sheer heaviness of Sonne, but it was a great choice nevertheless. Flake really got to shine through on this one, due to the riffs being few and far between, but his real moment in the sun was being put in an inflatable raft and deployed into the crowd, who gladly accepted the band's offering, and sailed him around a bit before he made his way back to the stage. Once again, these guys manage to pull off the most incredibly hilarious stunts.
Just when we thought the show was winding down, the band kicked it into maximum overdrive with Ich Will. While it's not my personal favorite, the band delivered an incredible performance of this song, and really got the crowd going. What really trips me out is that they manage to time their pyro with their songs perfectly, and Ich Will was no acception; maybe Christoph controls some of the detonations from his kit...Who knows?
It was time for the show to come to an end, and we all wondered what they would close with. And with one whistling note out of Richard, we all knew; Engel. Till emerged from his passage under the stage wearing beautiful steel angel wings, which were really quite breathtaking. Everyone knew the lyrics to this classic, and the whole venue was in unison singing and whistling along with the band. Till's wings spread open as if he were going to fly, but instead, they gradually got brighter and brighter; the bloody things were shooting fire from both sides! But, that's not all. They started to strobe with bursts of fire from the tips down towards Till. To say it was amazing is a complete understatement. Of course, the fire was plentiful from the stage as well, and I'm actually kind of surprised that the fire managed to stay on the stage and not set anything ablaze in the venue. With several bursts of fireworks from behind the stage, and Till's wings spewing out a last hoorah of fire, the song was over; Till descended back into his passageway, and the lights came on. The band gathered at the edge of the stage and kneeled in respect towards the crowd. Till thanked the crowd, and off they went. The show was over.
Chapter 4: The Aftermath
Pyrotechnics and stage antics aside, Rammstein are incredible performers and even more incredible musicians. They performed their songs with extreme precision and skill, and acted in a manner most professional. They don't NEED their pyro and shtick to put on a good show; they merely use these things as an enhancement. The musicianship displayed before me was phenomenal and went beyond my wildest expectations. I was truly in awe and amazement.
It was surprising how on they were tonight. They didn't try to offend and shock their crowd by playing Amerika, and they showed extreme gratitude and respect toward us. You can tell that they truly appreciate their crowd, no matter how much they may dislike the location. For those of you who weren't there, you really did miss out. Perhaps they'll be back. There are rumors floating around right now about Rammstein returning in the spring of 2011 for a full tour.
The set list:
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